IOWA PEOPLE AND PLACES GIVE NAMES TO
32 NEW SHIPS OF NAVY, MERCHANT MARINE
Battleships, Frigates, Destroyer Escorts, Cargo Ships
Among Those on Iowa List.
Thirty-two ships launched since the beginning of World War II bear names of Iowa places or people . . . and there are others yet to come. Among these will be one for the town of Carroll (where Waverly’s John Ingals is now county agent) for that place is one of 50 U. S. cities to be used as names of Victory ships after completion of the list of names of the allied countries. In this group the word victory will be used in the name too, as “Carroll Victory.”
The 32 ships are listed in the current issue of Annals of Iowa, the list having been check by the offices of Senator George Wilson and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. Of the 32 one is a battleship, one a cruiser, two are destroyers, two are frigates, one is an attack transport, and eleven are destroyer escorts. These are in the fighting force of the U. S. navy. There are also 14 ships built by the U. S. Maritime Commission, two of them listed as cargo ships.
The complete list, as it appears in the Annals, follows:
U.S.S. Iowa IV, Battleship 61, named for the State of Iowa, launched New York Navy yard Aug. 27, 1942; sponsor, Mrs. Henry A. Wallace, wife of the vice president.
* USS Iowa (BB-61), the only ship of her class to have served in the Atlantic during World War II, earned 9 battle stars during World War II and 2 battle stars during the Korean War. She was decommissioned on October 26, 1990, and now is a museum, dedicated August 19, 2012, and is permanently berthed at San Pedro, California. Source: ussiowa.com
U.S.S. Des Moines Cruiser CA-75, named for City of Des Moines, keel laid Sept. 9, 1943, not yet launched; Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.
* USS Des Moines (CA-75), the second Naval ship named for the City of Des Moines. She was re-named USS Helena (CA-75) after the city of Helena, Montana before she was launched on April 28, 1945, with Mrs. John T. Haytin, wife of the mayor of Helena, as the sponsor. During the Korean War, she earned the Presidential Unit Citation of the Republic of Korea award and the Korean Service medal with four stars. She was decommissioned June 29, 1963, struck from the Naval List January 1, 1974, and scrapped on November 13, 1974. The ship’s bell, anchor chain and one propeller are on display downtown Helena, Montana. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Des_Moines
U.S.S. Burlington, Frigate PF-51, named for City of Burlington, Iowa, launched Dec. 7, 1943, sponsor, Mrs. Florence Conrad, wife of Max A. Conrad, mayor of the City of Burlington; Consolidated Steel Co., Wilmington, Cal.
* USS Burlington (PF-51) served briefly in the Pacific during World War II, then operated around the Aleutian Islands. She served as a training vessel for the Russians and was leased to the Soviet Navy as EK-21. She returned to the American fleet on November 14, 1949, and served during the Korean War. During World War II she earned 2 battle stars and 5 battle stars during the Korean War. Upon being decommissioned on September 15, 1952, she has been placed in reserve at Yokosuka, Japan.
U.S.S. Davenport, Frigate PF-69, named for City of Davenport, Iowa, launched Dec. 8, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Ed Frick, wife of mayor of Davenport; Leathem D. Smith Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
* USS Davenport (PF-69) served first on anti-submarine patrol then was converted to a weather ship during World War II. She was decommissioned on February 4, 1946, and sold on June 6, 1946.
U.S.S. Remey, Destroyer 688, named in honor of Rear Admiral George Collier Remey, USN, of Iowa; launched July 25, 1943; sponsor, Angelica C. Remey, daughter of the admiral; Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.
* USS Remey (DD-688) was decommissioned on December 10, 1946 and recommissioned for service during the Korean War on November 14, 1951. Decommissioned on December 30, 1963, she was stricken from the Naval List on December 12, 1974, and scrapped on June 10, 1976. During World War II, USS Remey earned 10 battle stars. Source: www.destroyersonline.com/usndd/info/infdf688.htm
U.S.S. The Sullivans, Destroyer 537, named in honor of the five Sullivan boys of Waterloo, Iowa, lost on the Cruiser Juneau; launched April 4, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, mother; Bethlehem Co., San Francisco.
* USS The Sullivans (DD-537) “We Stick Together” served with great distinction during World War II, surviving intense combat and rescuing downed aviators, earning 9 battle stars. She served during the Korean War (earning two battle stars), the Cuban blockade and was involved with rescue efforts for the submarine Thresher. She was decommissioned on January 7, 1965, and struck from Naval List on December 1, 1974. Considered to be a National Historic Landmark, she was donated to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, Buffalo, New York, where she now serves as a memorial and is open to the public.
Former U.S.S. Ansel Briggs, now the U.S.S. Mintaka, Attack Transport AK-94, named in honor of Iowa’s first state governor; launched March 10, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. A. V. Bechtel, wife of shipbuilder; California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Cal.
* USS Ansel Briggs (AK-94) was taken over by the Navy shortly after her launch, renamed U.S.S. Mintaka and converted into a Navy cargo ship. She was decommissioned in February of 1949, stricken from the Naval List, and turned over to the War Shipping Administration who renamed her U.S.S. Ansel Briggs. She was scrapped in 1968 at Oakland, California. Source:/www.history.navy.mil/sh-usn/usnsh-m/ak94.htm
U.S.S. Bunch, Destroyer Escort 694, named in honor of Kenneth Cecil Bunch, aviation radioman first class of Pershing, U. S. Navy, killed in the South Pacific; launched May 29, 1943; sponsor Mrs. Leila Mae Bunch, Pershing, Iowa, wife; DeFoe Shipbuilding Co.,
Bay City, Mich.
* USS Bunch (DE-694) was converted into a high-speed transport and was redesignated APD-79 on July 31, 1944, and was fitted as a flagship. She served during the campaigns at Leyte and the invasion of Okinawa. She earned two battle stars during her World War II service. Decommissioned on May 31, 1946, she was placed in reserve. On April 1, 1964, she was struck from the Naval List and sold for scrap in June of 1965. Source: www.history.navy.mil/danfs/b10/bunch-i.htm
U.S.S. Durant, Destroyer Escort 389, named in honor of Kenneth William Durant, pharmacist’s mate, third class, U.S. navy, Algona; launched Aug. 3, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Solomon R. Durant, mother; Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas.
* USS Durant (DE-369) began her service during World War II as a school ship at Norfolk, Virginia. She started for Pearl Harbor in August of 1945, but with the close of the war, she returned to the East Coast. She was decommissioned and placed into reserve on February 27, 1946. Placed on loan to the U.S. Coast Guard on May 15, 1952, she was recommissioned as WDE-489 and served at various Pacific weather stations. On June 16, 1954, she was returned to the U. S. Navy and reclassified as DER-389 and served in picket duty. In June of 1964 she was decommissioned and sold for scrap in April of 1974.
U.S.S. Griswold, Destroyer Escort 7, named in honor of hero of Battle of Midway, Ens. Don T. Griswold, U.S.N.R. of Clarinda; launched Jan. 9, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Don T. Griswold, Sr., mother; Boston Navy Yard.
* USS Griswold (DE-7) conducted a 4-hour attack on a Japanese submarine off Guadalcanal on September 12, 1944. Although debris and an oil slick arose to the surface, she was not credited with a kill for this action. On December 24, 1944, however, she was credited for the sinking of I-39. She earned 3 battle stars for her World War II service. On November 19, 1945, she was decommissioned and struck from the Naval List on December 5th. Her hulk was sold to Dulien Steel Products of Seattle for scrapping on November 27, 1946.
U.S.S. Hilbert, Destroyer Escort, named in honor of Ernie Hilbert, killed in action in Battle of Midway; sponsor, Mrs. Thomas Hilbert, El Monte, California, mother.
* USS Hilbert (DE-742) received eight battle stars for her service in the Pacific, seeing action during the campaigns at the Marianas, western Caroline Islands, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Third Fleet air strikes and shore bombardment against Japan. She was decommissioned on June 19, 1946 and struck from the Naval List on August 1, 1972. On October 15, 1973, she was sold for scrapping.
U.S.S. Kephart, Destroyer Escort, named in honor of Lt. William Perry Kephart, U.S.N.R. of Des Moines, killed in action while piloting a navy plane at Guadalcanal; launched Sept. 6, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Adam Perry Kephert, mother; Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, S.C.
* USS Kephart (DE-207) started her service during World War II conducting convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. She joined the 7th Fleet in New Guinea and was active in many of the campaigns of the Pacific, earning 5 battle stars. She served during the Korean War. On June 21,1946, she was decommissioned and struck from the Naval List on May 1, 1967. Under the Military Assistance Program, she was transferred to the Republic of South Korea on May 16, 1967. She was redesignated “Kyong Puk” and struck by the Korean Navy on April 30, 1985. Source: www.history.navy.mil/danfs/k3/kephart.htm
U.S.S. Mack, Destroyer Escort 358, named in honor of Harold John Mack, LeMars, Iowa, gunner’s mate, second class, U.S. navy; launched April 11, 1944; sponsor, Mrs. Gertrude Mack, Los Angeles, mother; Consolidated Steel Co., Ltd., Orange, Texas. **Read about Harold J. Mack on another page of this website (link provided.)
* USS Mack (DE-358) joined the 7th Fleet and was engaged in many campaigns of the Pacific. After Japan surrendered, USS Mack conducted air-sea rescue patrol and escort duty. She was placed out of commission on December 11, 1946 at San Diego and placed in reserve. She remained part of the U.S.’s Pacific inactive fleet and was berthed at Mare Island in California until she was struck from the Naval List on March 15, 1972. On June 13, 1973, she was sold for scrapping. Source: www.history.navy.mil/danfs/m1/mack.htm
U.S.S. Myers, Destroyer Escort 595, named in honor of Merton Bernell Myers, machinist’s mate, first class, U.S. navy, of Pocahontas; launched Feb. 15, 1944; sponsor, Mrs. Ralph W. Myers, mother; Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., Hingham, Mass.
* USS Myers (DE-595) was decommissioned on January 13, 1947 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On June 1, 1960, she was struck from the Naval List and sold to the Colombian government where she was used as a floating power station. Source: www.navsource.org/archives/10/04/04105.htm
U.S.S. Reynolds, Destroyer Escort 42, named in honor of Dudley Louis Reynolds, Fort Dodge, Ens. U. S. Navy; launched Aug. 1, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Nora Lou Reynolds, wife; Puget Sound Navy Yard, Seattle, Wash.
* USS Reynolds (DE-42) served as an escort in dangerous Pacific area and earned 8 battle stars, a considerable high number for a ship of her type during World War II. She was decommissioned and struck from the Naval List on December 19, 1945. She was sold for scrapping on April 28, 1947. Source:
U.S.S. Schmitt, Destroyer Escort 676, named in honor of Father Herman Aloysius Schmitt, Lt. (j.g.) chaplain’s corps U. S. navy, of St. Lucas and Dubuque, who went down on the Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor; launched May 29, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Elizabeth Buchiet, St. Lucas, Iowa, sister; Bethlehem-Fore River, Quincy, Mass. **Read about A. H. Schmitt on another page of this website (link provided.)
* USS Schmitt (DE-676) served in the Atlantic, making 16 crossings without incident. She was reclassified as APD-76 on January 24, 1945 and served in the Pacific. During World War II, she received one battle star. She was decommissioned on June 28, 1949 and struck from the Naval List on May 1, 1967. In February of 1968, she was sold to Taiwan. Source: www.navsource.org/archives/10/04/04076.htm
U.S.S. Sellstrom, Destroyer Escort 255, named in honor of Ens. Edward Robert Sellstrom of Rockwell City, who lost his life in airplane crash; launched May 12, 1943; sponsor, Miss Genevieve Dahl, his fiancée, Minneapolis; Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas.
* USS Sellstrom (DE-255) was part of Task Force 63 bound of Gibraltar. Her service during World War II was mostly in the Atlantic and along the eastern coast of the United States. She finished her service in the Pacific and earned one battle star. She was decommissioned on June 13, 1946 and recommissioned with the U.S. Navy on November 1, 1955. She was decommissioned in June of 1960 and sold for scrap to Peck Iron Metal Works of Portsmouth, Virginia in April of 1967.
U.S.S. Suesens, Destroyer Escort 342, named in honor of Lt. (j.g.) Richard Wayne Suesens, of Burlington, navy flier killed in action in Pacific area; launched Jan. 11, 1944; sponsor, Mrs. Margaret Jane Suesens, wife; Consolidated Steel Corp, Ltd., Orange, Texas.
* USS Suesens (DE-342) provided air coverage from transports en route from Hollanida to Leyte. She survived nightly air raids and numerous kamikaze attacks during Operation Iceberg (the invasion of the Ryjkyus). She supported the Japanese occupation forces. She was decommissioned on January 15, 1947 and stricken from the Naval List on March 15, 1971. She was sold and broken up for scrap to the National Metal and Steel Corporation of Terminal Island, California, on June 13, 1973.During World War II, USS Suesens earned 5 battle stars. Source: www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/1690.html
U.S.S. Weber, Destroyer Escort 675, named in honor of Ens. Frederick Thomas Weber, U.S.N., of Des Moines, killed in action in Battle of Midway; launched May 1, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Matt R. Walsh, Galesburg, Ill., mother; Bethlehem-Fore River, Quincy, Mass.
* USS Weber (DE-675) served as a transatlantic convoy escort, concentrating her greatest efforts in diverting transports and cargo ships from the paths of U-boats. She made six round trip voyages while performing this service. Ordered to the Pacific, USS Weber served as an antisubmarine and mine escort. She spent the final weeks of World War II at Leyte. She earned one battle star during World War II. She was decommissioned by directive in January of 1947 and was finally struck from the Naval List on June 1, 1960. She was sunk as a target by an AGM-12 air-to-surface missile on July 15, 1962. Source: www.hullnumber.com/DE-675
MARITIME COMMISSION VESSELS
* NOTE: Any group which raised $2 million dollars in War Bonds could suggest a name for a Liberty Ship. Source: www.usmm.org/libertyships.html
S.S. William B. Allison, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa United States senator; launched March 8, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Bennet Rose; California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Cal.
* S.S. William B. Allison was damaged by aircraft torpedoes in the Pacific and towed to Okinawa for repairs. She sailed for the U.S. Navy in 1945 as “S.S. Gamage.” She was scrapped in China in 1948. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsW.html
S.S. Albert B. Cummins, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa Governor and United States senator; launched March 23, 1943; Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., Portland, Ore.
* S.S. Albert B. Cummins was scrapped in Seattle in 1961. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsA.html
S.S. Frank Cushel, Liberty Ship, named in honor of United States senator; launched March 23, 1943; Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., Portland, Oreg.
* S.S. Frank J. Cushel sailed for Carras Ltd. of London in the 1950’s as “Avra.” She was abandoned in 1965 approximately 140 miles north of Cochrin when she began to leak. She sank the following day. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsF.html
S.S. Julien Dubuque, Liberty Ship, named in honor of first settler of City of Dubuque; launched Feb. 16, 1943; built at Richmond, Cal.
* S.S. Julien Dubuque was scrapped in Panama City in 1971. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipJon.html
S. S. Leo Duster, Liberty Ship, named in honor or secretary to the governor of Iowa, deceased, of Cedar Rapids; financed by Linn Co. drive; launched Nov. 21, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. Leo Duster, wife; Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards, Baltimore, Md.
* S.S. Leo J. Duster sailed for F. S. Bell in 1947 and as “Bat” for Cargo Ships & Tankers, Co. of New York in 1963. In 1966 she sailed as “Deluro” for Apollo Shipping Inc. of New York. She was scrapped in Taiwan in 1969. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsL.html
S.S. Josiah B. Grinnell, Cargo ship, named in honor of founder of City of Grinnell; launched March 4 1943; built at Richmond, Cal.
* S.S. Josiah B. Grinnell was scrapped at Terminal Island in 1966. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsJon.html
S.S. Samuel J. Kirkwood, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa Governor and United States secretary of the interior; launched Dec. 3, 1942; built at New Orleans.
* S.S. Samuel Jordan Kirkwood was torpedoed and sunk on May 6, 1943 by U-195 in the South Atlantic. There were no casualties. S.S. Samuel Jordan Kirkwood’s Master, Samuel Olsen, was awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal by the President of the United States for his meritorious service in the line of duty during the sinking of the ship. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsS.html www.usmm.org/heroes.html
S.S. W. W. McCrackin, Liberty Ship, named in honor or resident of Fairfield Iowa; launched Oct. 6, 1943; built at Portland, Ore.
* S.S. W. W. McCrackin sailed as “Maria G. Culucundis” under the Greek flag in 1947. She was abandoned after sustaining fire and explosions 300 miles northeast of Burmuda in 1962. It is assumed she sank. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsW.html
S.S. Edwin T. Meredith, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa publisher and secretary of agriculture; launched June 15, 1943; built at Richmond, Cal.
* S.S. Edwin T. Meredith was scrapped at Kearny, New Jersey in 1972. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsE.html
S.S. John H. Quick, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Herbert Quick, Iowa author; launched Dec. 13, 1943; California Shipbuilding Corp., Wilmington, Cal.
* S.S. John H. Quick was scrapped in 1969 at Portland, Oregon. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsJo.html
S. S. Leslie M. Shaw, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa Governor and secretary of the treasury; launched Dec. 22, 1942; built at Richmond, Cal.
* S.S. Leslie M. Shaw was scrapped in Baltimore in 1961. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsL.html
S.S. Henry C. Wallace, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa publisher and secretary of agriculture; launched Aug. 15, 1943; sponsor, Mrs. B. B. Hickenlooper, wife of Iowa Governor; built at Wilmington, Cal.
* S.S. Henry C. Wallace was converted to a dry cargo ship in 1956 and was part of the fleet for Argyll Shipping Co. of Bermuda. In 1967, she was abandoned after an engine room explosion and fire.
S.S. James B. Weaver, Cargo Ship, named in honor of Iowa member of congress, publicist and Civil War soldier; launched March 23, 1943; built in Wilmington, Cal.
* S.S. James B. Weaver was scrapped at Portland, Oregon in 1965. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsJ-Ji.html
S.S. Robert G. Cousins, Liberty Ship, named in honor of Iowa congressman; launched Dec. 23, 1943; built at Richmond, Cal.
* S.S. Robert G. Cousins sailed in 1947 under the Italian flag as the “Monginevro” and in 1963 under the U.S.S.R. flag as the “Avacha.” She was scrapped at Catellon, Spain in 1973. Source: www.mariners-l.co.uk/LibShipsR.html
The vessels constructed in the United States navy yards come under long established general classifications. Battleships are named for states; cruisers and frigates for cities; submarines for fish; destroyers and destroyer escorts for officers or enlisted men in the navy, members of congress or inventors; carries for historical vessels or battles; mine sweepers for birds; gun boats for small cities; sea plane tenders for sounds or bays; ocean going tugs for Indian tribes; and cargo ships for stars. Maritime Commission vessels are named for individuals.
Source: The Waverly Democrat, Waverly, Iowa, Friday, September 22, 1944
Transcription & Notes in italics by Sharon R. Becker, Jan 2013